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How This Mom’s Strength Lifts Up Her Family—Literally

Boramee Douk wants to be able to carry her twin boys every year on their birthday. They just turned 9, and she’s still going strong. 

Collection of photos of Boramee Douk lifting up her twin sons every year on their birthday.

Most moms want to be an uplifting influence on their children, but Boramee Douk takes the lifting part literally. The Bay Area-based primary care physician and mother of three wants to stay strong enough to pick up her kids—no matter how big they get.  

After photographing herself holding her twin sons on their first birthday, she decided to continue the tradition each year. The photos are a reminder of how much the boys, who were born premature with a combined weight of just 8.9 pounds, have grown. Plus, they show off Douk’s impressive strength. 

Lifting the boys together started to feel challenging on their fourth birthday, but Douk was determined to keep up the tradition. The twins recently turned 9 and she’s still at it, hoisting their combined weight of 157 pounds thanks to the strength she’s gained working out with Tonal. 

“I never expected I’d still be doing this on their ninth birthday,” she tells Tonal in an interview. “One day, they’ll have to carry me, but I’m going to keep this going for as long as I can. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been.”

For Douk, strength means more than the ability to lift heavy weight (or kids). It’s also about setting an example for others and advocating for herself in situations where others doubt her abilities. 

“As a woman and a minority, there’s a tendency to be underrepresented and under-recognized in our society,” she says. “There are just so many more adversities and stereotypes for us to overcome.” The daughter of Cambodian immigrants, Douk says her strength to “speak up, be seen, and be heard” has allowed her to achieve her goal of becoming a doctor and helping her community. 

One way Douk motivates her family, friends, and patients is by sharing her lifelong passion for fitness. “Exercise is a huge part of what I do for stress relief,” she says, adding that, from a medical perspective, she knows how important strength is as we get older. “I joke with my friends that when we’re 80 years old and fall down, we have to be able to get back up.”

"“I counsel my patients on weight loss and exercise all the time, and you have to practice what you preach. I can't expect my patients or my kids to trust what I say unless I'm doing those things for myself." - Boramee Douk

As a doctor and busy mom (along with the twins, she also has a 7-year-old daughter), Douk knows how difficult it is to find time for exercise, but she’s confident that if she can squeeze it in, others can, too. “I counsel my patients on weight loss and exercise all the time, and you have to practice what you preach. I can’t expect my patients or my kids to trust what I say unless I’m doing those things for myself,” she says. “So I try to lead by example.” 

During the pandemic, Douk says her time spent caring for patients “exponentially increased,” so she was grateful for the ability to do shorter workouts on Tonal that fit into her schedule. “I’ll drop off the kids at school, and then come back home to do a Quick Fit before I leave for the office,” she says. “I’m a little bit sweaty, but that’s okay.” With the Tonal app, she can even do a mat workout in the office during her lunch break if that’s her only free time in the day. 

“For a lot of people, working out is daunting,” she says. “Amongst my own group of friends and family, I try to create fun challenges to do together to normalize fitness and make it less of a chore.” She recently organized a workout calendar to keep a group of roughly a dozen neighbors on track. Afterward, they’ll celebrate with a get together and prizes for those who did the most activity. 

“With a little added competition, people are more motivated to exercise,” she says. “It’s not something you have to do anymore, it’s something you want to do.”  

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